Every human being always and simultaneously lives in two situations or worlds: the real and the imaginary. The real world is the one that is there, objective, real and real. The imaginary world is the one that, starting from the real world, we construct according to our fears or securities. We all live in our own personal world; each of us in our own. From it we build our own inner world, we put ourselves in it and live in it.
Everyone builds their own world, whether they realise it or not. That is why we do not see things as they are, but as we are. As a personal construction, this world is, to a large extent, imaginary, not real; false, not true. And it is precisely this distortion that is often the cause of many complications and suffering.
We can understand this better from an example: Because of persistent headaches, you go to the doctor. You are diagnosed with a brain tumour. And with a very strong impression, you return home.
Based on this medical information (let’s assume it is real), you start to build your own subjective world of fear and alarm, denial, non-acceptance… Little by little, without realising it, you enter this world and you find yourself living in it, and you live it as if it were real. Your emotional reactions spring from that imaginary second moment, like water springs from the spring.
If you take it for granted that the tumour is a malignant cancer, you irremediably sense that this means an almost immediate death for you; you then imagine the orphanhood of your children, the loneliness of your spouse… If you create this tragic world – don’t forget that it doesn’t exist – you have no other way out than to sink into a sea of bitterness and despair. Now it is you yourself who, bound hand and foot, will give yourself up to mortal sadness, to a cadaverous apathy and immobility. You kill yourself in life.
But, being realistic and analysing your way of processing the data, you may realise that this world of “cancer and death” is your construction, a product of your fearful mind, not the doctor’s data or objective reality. Then, from this realisation, you can build another, more hopeful, personal world. You can say to yourself, for example: “Yes, it is a tumour. It may be cancerous, but it may not be. I will wait calmly for the results of the tests. I am with God and God is with me. I believe that He takes care of me better than I take care of myself. I am open to whatever comes. And if what comes is bad, He will sustain me”.
If we do this exercise, and we can do it because it is easy, the dominant feelings in our lives will be very different: feelings of courage, of hope, of strength in the face of the difficult situation, of peace. Because God has given us this amazing power to see things from another point of view. But it works only if we distinguish the real from the imaginary.
Juan Carlos cmf